Renault plans practice outing for Latifi

2016 F1 season

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Renault intends to give Nicholas Latifi his F1 race weekend debut during a practice session this year after signing the GP2 racer as a test driver.

Latifi raced in Formula Renault 3.5 last year
“As well as contesting the GP2 Series – which is a perfect proving ground for new drivers – Nicholas will go through a programme with us to attain his super licence with a view to contesting at least one FP1 session this year,” said Renault boss Frederic Vasseur.

Latifi placed 11th in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship last year. He also started seven GP2 races and will return to the category this year with DAMS. He has two FIA F1 superlience points.

“F1 is totally unlike any other category of motorsport,” said Latifi, “so being immersed in that environment I’ll be a bit like a sponge – absorbing as much information as possible.”

“Hopefully, I can apply a lot of what I learn to my racing in GP2 this season.”

Being named test driver for the Renault Sport Formula One Team is something very special – an amazing opportunity,” he added. “There’s a lot of history behind the Renault name in F1, so to be a part of that, and get the chance to learn from them and gain expertise in a full factory team, is really going to help my development.”

Last month Renault announced the formation of a new Renault Sport Academy to promote young racing talent. Latifi’s GP2 rival and last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 champion Oliver Rowland is among its members, along with Jack Aitken, Louis Deletraz and Kevin Joerg.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on “Renault plans practice outing for Latifi”

  1. A bit of a head scratcher this decision, TBH, especially when they already have Ocon.

    Not a standout talent, and you’re potentially giving up FP1 sessions to the detriment of your regular drivers.

    It’s no surprise when lower grid teams do this, the financial reasons are obvious, but isn’t this supposed to be a works team?

    1. Ocon is on loan from Mercedes i believe, so it does make sense to give that FP time to someone else. Not sure Latifi is the best choice however, as i haven’t seen him do anything special.

      1. Yes, I’m aware that Ocon is on loan from Mercedes, but Renault has also flagged the likelihood of them giving Ocon FP1 sessions this year-

        Letting Latifi run FP1s as well can only be described as a revenue exercise, which I might have expected from the old Lotus under Genii control, but not a factory team.

        And on the subject of Ocon, I can’t see Merc standing in the way of him getting to F1 if Renault offered him a seat in the next couple of years, contract or none.

        With Hamilton and Rosberg still relatively young, and Wehrlein the anointed successor, it’s hard to see Ocon having much of a shot at driving a Silver Arrow in the foreseeable future.

        1. Don’t forget Carmen Jordá

  2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    14th March 2016, 13:48

    Where was this guy’s sponsors when Robert Wickens was in FR3.5?

    Seriously, has anyone ever been so undeserving of a seat with a GP2 powerhouse? Given that Rowland was available, and that Gasly wanted to stay, I can only imagine that the size of Latifi’s cheque means it will be ponies, jet-skis and flat-screens all-round for the children of DAMS management this year.

    1. Latifi is well funded by his family’s company Sofina, which turns over about the same amount of revenue per year as F1. We all know what the state of the driver market is and was. Just less transparent now.

  3. I don’t understand why Roland is with MP Motorsport with his Renault backing, if this guy is in a DAMS Roland should be in something decent too. I’m guessing all of the Renault driver academy stuff happened after all of these drives were decided?

    1. *Rowland

    2. Well, Rowland is being supported by Renault, who helped him get a seat in GP2. Whereas Renault are being supported by Latifi(‘s money), so they aren’t in a position to help him get a seat. He bought the best seat in GP2 and now he bought his way into some practice and development running.

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